Bavarian State Mint Review
Any listing of the major national mints in the world will invariably include such vaunted institutions as Canada’s Royal Canadian Mint or the United States Mint. Oftentimes however, in the shadows cast by these behemoths, smaller and lesser-known organizations, such as the Bavarian State Mint (Bayerischen Hauptmünzamt in Germany), might well miss inclusion and that would be a mistake. While the same name recognition might not attach itself to this Southern German national mint, their artisans, engravers, and production line are currently producing the hottest selling coin programs, and numismatic treasures, in the collecting world. Known as the Somalian Elephant coin of the African Wildlife series, it is the mint’s most popular selling product.
The Somalian Elephant Coin Series Experience
Originally struck in 1999 as part of the African Wildlife series, they initially went to the African nation of Zambia before ending that production run in 2003. The following year, 2004, the Bavarian State Mint began production of the coin for the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia and numismatic history was born.
In the decade and more since production began for Somalia, each coin in the series features an obverse side with the dominate characteristic being that of an African bush elephant. While most school age children know the world enjoys the company of two distinct species of elephant, the African and Indian, fewer perhaps know that the African family of the species is further divided into two subspecies, the bush elephant, and the forest elephant. The subspecies artistically rendered on the Somalian Elephant Coin is that of the larger bush variety.
The largest land mammal on the planet, the animal is truly majestic and easily the most iconic creature associated with a continent already renowned for the array of amazing wildlife that call Africa home. While numerous mints throughout Germany produce African wildlife themed coins, the Bavarian State Mint’s focus is squarely on the production of coins that feature the elephant’s image.
To keep collector interest in the series alive, each year’s specific design is altered. Although each yearly release continues to invoke the same vivid imagery of a powerful African bush elephant, changes are made in the specific look of the coin that might range from that of a single elephant to a family herd. Engraved against the backdrop of familiar African terrain like the towering peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro to the tall trees and grasses of the expansive savannas, each change has collectors and investors eagerly awaiting the next release date.
Somalian Elephant Coin Details
In addition to the aforementioned stylistic annual changes, the Bavarian State Mint’s original coins all utilized fine silver of .999 with a face value of 1,000 Somalia shillings. Their latest offerings however, the 2016 Somalian Elephant coin series is not only available in silver bullion, proof, and gilded options, but the coins are also scheduled to be released in a gold variant. Both silver and gold coins feature a precious metal content of .999 purity with a face value of 100 Somalia shillings for one ounce of silver in the case of the former, and 1,000 Somalia shillings for one-ounce of gold in the latter case.
The 2016 Gold Somalian Elephant coin’s obverse side is featured with an African bush elephant on the edge of a waterhole facing the viewer with its trunk raised towards the sky as the shoreline retreats towards the horizon and the sun rises on another African day. The coin’s obverse side is additionally adorned with the engraving “African Wildlife,” as well as the word “Elephant” with the weight, metal content, and purity of the coin.
The coin’s reverse features an unchanged design that has endures since 2004. The back of the coin prominently displays an beautifully wrought design of two leopards holding a shield, the official Coat of Arms for the nation of Somalia, and bears a single star against a backdrop of horizontal lines. “Somalia Republic” is engraved on the top with the coin’s face value along the coin’s bottom.
All coins, proof and uncirculated, silver, and gold, display the same obverse and reverse images each year.
The Fall and Rise of the Bayerischen Hauptmünzamt
Established in 1158, more than seven centuries before the 1870 unification of modern Germany, the Bavarian State Mint was founded with an eye towards striking coins and supplying currency to the local economy. The very nature of the fractured cultural, political, and economic found during the medieval German landscape fostered corruption and inefficiency. Indeed, within a century, the mint was under censure for the quality of their coin production, and by 1290, creditors greatly devalued their coinage, owing to its low silver content.
The issue came to a head when the denizens of Bavaria rose up in protest, and the currency revolt was not satiated until the mint was sacked, the coin forges destroyed, and the official responsible for the minting process, known as the Munzmeister, lay dead on the mint’s floor.
Continued instability in the region, throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th-century continued to wreck havoc on the Bavarian State Mint’s quality of production, and this situation stood until the formation of the modern German state in 1870 with the advent of the German Empire in 1871.
Today, the Bavarian State Mint is controlled by the German national government, and is one of five national mints operated by the government sitting in Berlin. In fact, they are just one of a handful of mints in the Eurozone authorized to produce the common currency, the Euro, in use throughout the integrated economic block. The mint has come a long way since its neighbors roused themselves to destroy the coin forges they believed were causing them economic hardships, and now they are one of the most respected national mints in the world.
As such, for collectors and investors in unique numismatic treasures, the Bavarian State Mint is a trusted partner when it comes to delivering beautifully designed, skillfully cast commemorative coins and fine precious metal products from bullion to ceremonial medals and medallions such as the medals struck for the 1972 Summer Olympic games.